Aera, the Jason Ker-designed 55-footer, has won the 60th Sydney Hobart race

British yacht Aera today became the third British and 12th international overall handicap winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in the 60 year history of the ocean classic.

The Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Martin James, announced the Overall IRC placings at a public ceremony outside Hobart’s historic Constitution Dock which saw Aera’s owner Nick Lykiardopulo presented with the historic perpetual Tattersalls Trophy and a Rolex Yachtmaster watch.

Aera, a Jason Ker-designed 55-footer (pictured left), races under the burgee of the Royal Yacht Squadron in England and was skippered by prominent English yachtsman Jez Fanstone.

“This is truly the Everest of yacht racing,” said Lykiardopulo whose first Rolex Sydney Hobart was in the tragic race of 1998 with his previous Aera, a Swan 46, which won its handicap division.

“We compete to overcome the challenge of the sea, but we also respect it; every competitor and yacht in this race is a winner.”

Aera placed first Overall and first in IRC Division A, beating the Line Honours winner, Ludde Ingvall’s Simonis/Voogd-designed 90-footer Nicorette by 4 hours 26 minutes 46 seconds on corrected time. Third place went to Ichi Ban, owned and skippered by CYCA director Matt Allen, 1 hour 36 minutes back on corrected time.

Aera’s skipper Jez Fanstone said the win gave him great satisfaction but that sharing the experience and a few drinks at the end with “these 15 other blokes” was more important. “We had a great boat and a great team,” said a typically understated Fanstone when asked what got the boat through the rough conditions in this year’s race.

“The 600 mile races are tough because you never get into any rhythm and you never get any rest. We did the preparation and let God hand out the prizes.” Perhaps crewmember and local Tasmanian David Stephenson summed it up when he said that a Rolex Sydney Hobart was “30 per cent crew, 30 per cent boat, 30 per cent luck and the rest is bits and pieces.”

The first British-owned yacht to win the race was Rani, skippered by Royal Navy Captain John Illingworth, in the inaugural race in 1945, while Edward Heath, who was to become Prime Minister of England, sailed Morning Cloud to victory in 1969.

Other international entrants to have won the Rolex Sydney Hobart on Overall handicap were: Rainbow II (NZ), 1967; 1969; Pathfinder (NZ), 1971; American Eagle (USA), 1972; Ceil III (Hong Kong), 1973; Kialoa II (USA), 1977; New Zealand (NZ), 1980; Atara (Ireland), 1991; Raptor (Germany), 1994 and Beau Geste (Hong Kong/China), 1997.


Overall and 1st Division A

Aera, Owner Nicholas Lykiardopulo, Skipper Jez Fanstone Royal Yacht Squadron, UK

IRC Division B:

Loki, Owner/Skipper Stephen Ainsworth Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, NSW

IRC Division D

Courtesan, Owner/Skipper Philip Childs Hilarys Yacht Club, WA

IRC Division E and 30-Year Veteran Division

Love & War, Owner Peter Kurts, Skipper Simon Kurts Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, NSW

Sydney 38 Division

Chutzpah, Owner/Skipper Bruce Taylor Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, VIC

A minute’s silence was observed at the presentation in remembrance of the victims of the tsunami disasters in Asia, a tragedy which has touched many in this ocean classic who know only too well the power of the sea.